ZPP Monthly Monitor (December 2012)
Political tensions and intolerance remained heightened across the country in the early days of December 2012 dropping significantly in the last two weeks of December when the festive spirit gripped the nation as the Christmas and New Year holidays beckoned. The major sources of conflict in December 2012 were the partisan distribution of agricultural inputs and food under the Presidential inputs scheme which spilled over from November and political parties’ preparations for decisive general elections- which were then rumoured to be slated for early 2013.
As has always been in the past four years the number of politically motivated human rights violations were a bit subdued during the month of December with 399 cases having been recorded down from 456 incidents recorded in November.
Several cases of intra-party conflict in both ZANU PF and MDC T were also recorded as aspiring candidates contested for the right to represent their respective parties in the upcoming elections. There was also an upsurge in acts of repression against civil society organisations with state security agents targeting organisations specifically dealing with voter registration.
The simultaneous distribution of maize seed, fertilisers and sometimes rice and maize-meal to Zanu-PF supporters and denial of the same government-funded aid to others heightened political polarization in many communities across the country setting a dangerous trajectory for the coming elections. The registration of the beneficiaries for this scheme differed from one place to another. In most villages the registration was done secretly within Zanu PF with other members of the community only getting to know about it when they saw Zanu PF members carrying the donations home.
In other places the villagers were asked to contribute money to hire a vehicle to collect the donations. When Zanu PF local leaders tried to discriminate villagers during the distribution, they failed as communities members demanded their monies back. Such a case took place in Dombodema in Bulilima West where people power carried the day and everyone ended up benefitting.
Partisan state security agents seemed to have moved quickly to implement one of the resolutions of Zanu PF’s people’s conference in Gweru which ominously “instructed the party to ensure that Government enforces the de-registration of errant NGOs deviating from their mandate”.
On 13 December 2012, five police officers stormed ZimRights head office in Harare and arrested the associations’ Education and Programs Manager- Leo Chamahwinya- accusing him of illegally conducting voter registration. He was remanded in custody and spent the Christmas and New Year holidays behind bars. On the December 17, 2012 in Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) Regional Coordinator Florence Ndhlovu was summoned by Detectives from the Law and Order section and was accused of being in possession of illegal information relating to the voters roll.
The incarceration of Chamahwinya and Dorcas Shereni pointed to a renewed clampdown on the activities of human rights NGO’s that gained pace in November when 3 CSU staffers were arrested and detained on a spurious charge of defacing a wall in Bulawayo.